Dolly Parton Rallies Famous Friends, Dogs In Dresses and Hit Songs For a Night of Fashion and Fun

Dolly Parton: "I think right now, everything is so dark and everything is so hateful. I thought it would be fun to do something fun and uplifting."

A blonde poodle wearing pearls and black eyeglasses with a metallic, ruffled frock and her ears in braids posed for pictures on the pink carpet at Dolly Parton's Pet Gala just outside of Nashville. Dozens more dapper dogs dressed in their Sunday best joined the country queen and her famous friends for the late January event.

Chris Janson walked the fuchsia carpet with his wife, Kelly and their bloodhound, Willie. Grace Bowers showed up with her doodle. Carly Pearce brought her shih tzus. Pearce calls her fluff ball June but admitted she considered naming her Dolly. There was a Dalmatian in a hot pink tutu, a Chihuahua in a pink feathered cowboy hat, and a pug sporting patriotic fringe. A dog named Lieutenant Dan had no back legs but still strutted his stuff in a pink satin shirt. And a Maltese named Lucille Ball showed up in a black tutu with pink hairbows.

"Everybody knows I love people," Parton said before the show. "I always talk about that. But they don't know how much I love the animals, too. I think right now, everything is so dark, and everything is so hateful. I thought it would be fun to do something fun and uplifting."

Fans who didn't score an invite to the inaugural Dolly Parton's Pet Gala can catch the fun from 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. ET Wednesday on CBS. The star-studded variety show will also stream on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the episode airs.

Artists who join Parton to perform on the show include Pearce, Lainey Wilson, Janson, Bowers, Joy Oladokun and KC of KC and the Sunshine Band. Special guests are "Young Sheldon's" Iain Armitage, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Bell, Kristin Cavallari, Kristin Chenoweth, Margaret Cho, Billy Ray and Firerose Cyrus, Neil Patrick Harris, Carson Kressley, Jim Nantz, Jessica Simpson and Tigirlily Gold.

Actress Jane Lynch hosts the hound hoedown with additional support from Kelly Osbourne and Rachel Smith who serve as runway correspondents.

"I think Dolly is one of the most incredible women to ever walk this planet," said Osbourne, who flew to Nashville from Los Angeles with her toddler to participate in the event. "I'm a huge Dolly fan. To be asked to do anything for her is a huge compliment."

Janson feels the same way.

"I was like, 'Cool, doggy Parton,'" Janson said, recalling when he was asked to bring Willie and sing on the show. "Wherever Dolly wants us to be, I'm there. She's really nice, and she's shown up for me without hesitating. She's the biggest star in the world."

Parton and her manager, Danny Nozell, explained the event had been years in the making. Parton said they started planning the event well before the pandemic and that Covid 19 halted their production. It came to an abrupt stop again when writers went on strike last year.

But as long as people enjoy themselves, she said Dolly Parton's Pet Gala was worth the years of planning it took to execute.

"I want to have all these fun people laughing, talking, looking, and getting their minds off all the crazy stuff in the world," she said. "It's going to be a fun show."

Following the hot pink carpet, celebrities and their canines filled a nearby soundstage for the show.

Parton launched the event singing her song "Puppy Love," clad in a homey red and white gingham with red sequined shoes and coordinating paw prints appliqued on her clothes.

"I've done a bunch of different types of shows over the last 60 years, but tonight is my first pet gala," she told the crowd. "It's a night of music and fashion and adorable doggies walking the runway. Who wouldn't love that? It's the first time I've encountered an audience at one of my shows and encouraged them to bark if you want to."

Lynch, who starred in the popular movie "Best In Show – a spoof on dog shows, said she tells people two things that always make her smile: dogs and Dolly Parton.

"I'm so happy to be the host of all the doggy fashion shows," she said. "I'll be able to give you a dog's eye view of all the fashion."

Over the course of the night, dogs and their handlers took the stage multiple times to model the latest in doggy fashion. Many shows were themed with pooches wearing coordinating colors, patriotic trends and more.

The night also included some of Parton's iconic outfits such as her looks from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Glastonbury and more.

"We're doing a whole runway of iconic looks of mine," Parton said. "We got '9 to 5,' Porter and Dolly, 'Best Little Whore House,' it's a fun night."

Parton performed several times over the course of the night. In addition to her opening number, she also performed "9 to 5" with Pearce, read a bedtime story to the dogs and even sang Happy Birthday off camera to KC of KC and the Sunshine Band.

Billy Ray and Firerose Cyrus took the stage to tell the audience about how dogs are a huge part of their love story.

"Our furbabies served as maid of honor and best man at our wedding," Billy Ray said.

"With the unconditional love that puppies give us, they just had to be by our side as we said our vows," Firerose added.

Billy Ray said: "Dogs provide all types of love, support, help and comfort."

Many impressive working dogs were highlighted during the show. Squid, a black lab who works at the Monroe Carrel Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt was showcased as was Titan, Parton's service dog who she said is "highly trained to sniff out trouble" before she performs.

"Like all the dogs that are trained to help, they truly are man and woman's best friend," Parton said.

Latest News